The family of a man killed in a car accident in August of 2006 on the New Jersey Turnpike settled their wrongful death lawsuit to the tune of 9.75 million dollars.
Patrick Sweeney, then 34 years old, was taking a car service to Newark Liberty Airport for work. The driver of the black car was heading southbound on the New Jersey Turnpike near Route 80 in Ridgefield, when the driver lost control of the car and crashed into a guardrail.
Sweeney family attorney Bruce Nagel said, “"The guardrail perforated and punctured the passenger compartment of the car and killed him. And this should never have happened."
According to Nagel, in court, they argued that the guardrail was installed too close to the road and should never have been built on top of such a high curb. After a three-year fight, the Sweeney family reached a 4 million dollar settlement with the contractor and the New Jersey Turnpike Authority. They were also awarded millions more from other parties.
Nagel said, “It was a safety hazard when it was built and we proved that it should have been fixed and still, three years later it hasn’t been fixed.”
According to Nagel, pictures taken by his office this year, three years after the crash, show that no changes have been made to the placement of the guardrail. Sweeney, at the heels of reaching this settlement wants to share her story to help others.
“For my family, it’s actually too late,” said Sweeney. “My husband already died. But for all the people passing that guardrail right now, a fender bender could be a fatality.”
A spokesperson for the NJ Turnpike Authority declined to comment citing pending litigation.